Analytics Inspiration Tour part 1: How to take data analysis to the next level

Posted On by Rosemarijn Dumont

Getting inspired while you keep on doing your same old routine is like waiting for your water to start boiling while you’re watching it – it’s never going to happen.

That’s why our team lead Veerle put 4 of us on a plane to the USA with a conference ticket in hand and the words ‘have some analytical fun and bring some back to Belgium!’.

Lotte and I flew to rainy Miami beach to attend the Big Data and Marketing Innovation Summit. Evelien and Anja rocked the INFORMS Annual Meeting in Nashville, Tennessee. You can read about their inspirational journey next week, but our session starts right here.

The summit contained a few technical case studies, but focused more on the innovation and data spirit that is needed to carry out the success stories. And while some of these points will seem plain evident to you, they’re not at all simple to execute properly.

Collecting and aggregating all data sources into one view of your customer

Collect all your internally generated data, compliment it with the right external data and aggregate it to get one complete view of everything. Don’t forget to have a good mix of cold data and human behavior to get the full picture. The biggest challenge here remains having your data accurate and qualitative. Once you have that in order, having it all in one place will allow for more in depth insights.

Having the technology set-up to back it up and send you soaring

To collect and aggregate the right data, you need the right technology. Make sure your technology is set up so it can guide you through future questions and it is not just set up for questions from the past.

Whenever you get a new technology in place, it’s also important to reflect on the things that are now in place that were built on the previous technology. Are your KPI’s still relevant? Are you still investigating the right topics, or do you now have more appropriate information that you can start exploring?

Don’t get stuck on your data island

If you stay on your little island full of great numbers, you will never get to see those great numbers come alive. Knowing your customer journey with all its micro-moments and what the world is doing around your company is crucial to delivering value. Your data and great numbers are nothing if you can’t relate them to the ‘human’ topics. Connecting all those dots allows you to sell value instead of becoming a commodity.

Connect your data and creativity teams

Another way to see your data come to life is by interacting with your creative teams. Driven by your data, they will be able to tell a much more relevant story for your customers. Give them access to dashboards and reports and let them be inspired by those great numbers as much as you are.

Introducing data into each step of the creative process of content marketing will allow the content marketing team to drive revenue. Imagine that all your content is tagged with keywords and adjacent topics. It will become very easy to create a package of relevant articles to wrap around an advertisment. The advertiser will get to target its core audience due to immediate keywords and an extended, receptive audience by expanding to adjacent topics. Your visitors won’t feel that harassed because of its subtlety and your credibility remains unimpacted.

With customer engagement comes trust and brand power

Having better content means you can engage with your customers even better starting from the first time they visit you. Having more engaged customers means that they trust you more. And more trust comes with more power to the brand. Don’t be afraid of empowerment. You can get a lot in return.

Condé Nast had an excellent use case with their 1,000 questions-survey. This survey is filled in by countless website visitors without them receiving any incentive. They just fill it in because they trust and love the brands, allowing Condé Nast to collect even more internal data without it costing them a single thing.

Endless experimenting

Much like getting inspired isn’t going to happen if you keep on sitting on that same sofa, you aren’t going to improve if you keep on doing the same analytics over and over again. Innovation comes from continuously experimenting. Don’t think you have to reinvent the wheel each time. A simple A/B test to see which image has the best response rate also counts as experimenting. Slowly or not, you will improve your game, get better results, get more recognition, get more time to experiment, get to improve, get better results…. You see where I’m going here?

Don’t run behind the facts – react in advance

A great use case came from the Washington Post. They predicted an article’s popularity peaks 30 minutes after publication. By then, they could tell when it would reach its highest peak and subsequently, when they could replace it with other content. Rather than just monitoring it in real-time, they already had their plan prepared before they needed to execute it. Don’t just use data to tell you when it’s too late, use it to be prepared.

Simple does the trick as well

Innovation can be found in the simplest of things. It can be as simple as changing the font on your website because you tested it and found out there is a better option. It can be as simple as using a basic logistic regression to predict your outcome. It can be as simple as Apple’s one-button iPod to reduce unnecessary controls. Simplifying means less customer training and faster adoption.

Getting down to the basics is sometimes hard enough, but in order to make your big data story a success, it is absolutely necessary.

Go ahead and read Anja and Evelien’s story about their INFORMS experience!